No lack of desire to pay, says minister
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is still considering paying an $800 lump sum to civil servants which was agreed prior to Hurricane Dorian impacting the northwest Bahamas, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, who said the payment is currently on hold.
Speaking to reporters outside the Churchill Building, Turnquest said, “We are still considering it and what we can comfortably fit in that window now considering what has happened.
“This is a significant and unexpected event for the government and so we have to make sure that we properly budget and consider all of the ramifications for our expenditure over the next couple of months for sure, until we have determined and been able to put concrete numbers to what our outlook is going to look like.”
He continued, “At the moment it is on hold and we will see how we can adjust, maybe to look towards the end of the year to see how we can maybe fit it in.
“Certainly, it is no lack of desire to want do it. I think we have demonstrated that. It’s just a matter of being practical and reasonable within the commitments and expected expenditure outlays the government will have to make over the next couple of months to meet the needs of those devastated by the storm.”
Prior to the storm, government agreed to an $800 lump sum payment to the Bahamas Public Service Union’s (BPSU) estimated 20,000 members.
Government recently approved the grant of two months’ salary advance to be repaid over a two-year period for permanent and pensionable officers affected by Hurricane Dorian in the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
In August, union members demonstrated outside Cabinet demanding the money they claimed they were owed. The union’s agreement expired in 2017. Since then, BPSU President Kimsley Ferguson said the union proposed a $250 pay raise in the first year, a lump sum of $2,500 in the second year and another $200 base salary increase in the third.
Dorian ravaged the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco on September 1-3.